BE AWARE: Inflatable Toys and Carnival Rides May Not be Regulated

amusement parks safety

Summertime means festivities where there are a lot of rides for children to enjoy, such as ferris wheels, roller coasters, bouncing houses and more.

But how can parents ensure these rides are safe? It actually depends on what state you are in.

Amusements rides are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, leaving no federal oversight over how they are set up, operated and maintained. Regular inspections and maintenance are the responsibility of the state in which it operates.

"It's like a crazy quilt," said James Barber, spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. "There are marked differences between states."

A California group that works to improve the safety of amusements park rides, called Saferparks, compiled information on various rides in different states in 2008.

The reports showed that 24 states had comprehensive government inspection and accident investigation programs; states including California and New York. However, eleven states had minimum inspection and insurance requirements; states including Oregon and our very own Washington.

Nine states had partial oversight and six states had no regulations on amusement parks.

Those states include Alabama, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming.

Recently, there have been several accidents involving inflatable rides that have prompted more serious regulations across the U.S. The issue is that many of these inflatable rides are for rent and are not secured properly at these private birthday parties.

A website that tracks amusement ride accidents recorded 11 accidents regarding inflatable rides, and 50 injured children just this year alone.

Recently, just in June, there was a viral YouTube video that showed a gust of wind that sent three inflatable rides into the air with children inside of them.

State officials in Oregon have asked lawmakers to include inflatable rides in the state’s regulations and to increase the oversight of all rides. Yet lawmakers failed to pass the bill because they didn’t want to raise fees during a recession. State officials say that will attempt to make a change again next year.

The Oklahoma Senate also considered a measure that would require state inspection and certification of amusement rides. That bill was also denied.

There are several other states that hope to make a change as well.

"We as an industry support state oversight and state regulation of portable amusement rides," president of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association Bob Johnson said.